Sergey Khachatryan

Biography

Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Sergey Khachatryan won First Prize at the VIII International Jean Sibelius Competition in Helsinki in 2000, becoming the youngest ever winner in the history of the competition.  In 2005 he claimed First Prize at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.
In recent seasons, Sergey has performed with the Bamberger Symphoniker (Herbert Blomstedt and Jonathan Nott), Munich Philharmonic (James Gaffigan), Swedish Radio Symphony (Valcuha), Mariinsky Orchestra (Valery Gergiev) and Orchestre de Paris (Andris Nelsons and Gianandrea Noseda).  He has also collaborated with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, NHK Symphony, Sydney Symphony and Melbourne Symphony.
Sergey’s most recent appearances in the US were with the Seattle Symphony (Ludovic Morlot), Los Angeles Philharmonic (Morlot) and National Symphony Orchestra Washington (Vasily Petrenko).  He has also visited the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony as well as the Ravinia, Blossom and Mostly Mozart Festivals.
This season begins with a tour of Japan with the Nippon Foundation and will see returns to the Seattle Symphony with Ludovic Morlot, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre National de Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestre National de Belgique, Luxembourg Philharmonic, and National Symphony Orchestra Washington.  Sergey will also make his debut with the Ulster Orchestra, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and the Nuremberg Symphony. 
At the beginning of the 2014/15 season, Sergey performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto at the Lucerne Festival with the Vienna Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel as the latest recipient of the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award.  Other highlights in the season included projects with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Munich Philharmonic, Hamburg Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony and NHK Symphony.  He also embarked on a trio project with Narek Hakhnazaryan (cello) and Lusine Khachatryan (piano), performing in venues such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna Konzerthaus and Mariinsky Concert Hall.
Highlights of the 2015/16 season included performing at the Masion de la Radio France under the baton of Daniele Gatti with the Orchestre National de France, projects with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Valencia Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestra della Toscana, and the Orchestre de Paris with whom he played Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor with Narek Hakhnazaryan. Further collaborations included projects with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, Sudwestrundfunk Sinfonieorchester, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
Sergey and Lusine are regular duo partners.  Together, they have given recitals at Konzerthaus Dortmund, Theatre des Champs Elysees and Cite de la Musique (Paris), Auditori Nacional Madrid, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Palais des Beaux Arts (Brussels), Philharmonie Luxembourg, Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall (New York) and Herbst Theater (San Francisco). The pair will return this 2016/17 season to the Wigmore Hall. 
Sergey and Lusine’s most recent recording of Armenian music “My Armenia” for Naïve Classique, dedicated to the 100th commemoration of the Armenian genocide, has been awarded the Echo Klassik for Chamber Music Recording (20th/21st Century)/Mixed Ensemble. Together they have also recorded Brahms’ three Sonatas for Violin and Piano.  Sergey’s discography on the label also includes the Sibelius and Khachaturian concerti with Sinfonia Varsovia and Emmanuel Krivine, both Shostakovich concerti with the Orchestre National de France and Kurt Masur, a recording of the Shostakovich and Franck sonatas for violin and piano and the complete Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by J.S. Bach.  
Sergey plays the 1740 ‘Ysaÿe’ Guarneri violin on kind loan from the Nippon Music Foundation.

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  • YSAYE Sonata no.2 for solo violin, fourth movement 'Les Furies'

New Album Release: "My Armenia"

Sergey Khachatryan and his sister Lusine present an album full of music from their homeland, Armenia. From Komitas to Mirzoyan this album is dedicated to the 100th Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. Released on September 11, you can find the new disc on Naïve Classique http://www.naive.fr/en/work/my-armenia

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Press

Concert: 20 October 2016

Philharmonia, Royal Festival Hall, London

The Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan has been continuing to grow in stature and impress audiences around the world, with many plaudits given for his concert performances but only a few recordings to his name. Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D minor has become a staple in Khachatryan's repertoire, and he gave a quite superb performance with Temirkanov and the Philharmonia in more than just a supporting role. Khachatryan showed tremendous versatility, playing with warmth and richness in the lower registers and sharpness and precision in the upper, but, more importantly, demonstrated perfect control over the variety of textures and complex layering of the music.

There were no histrionics here, just honest and intense playing, with genuine feeling. The handoffs between soloist and orchestra were perfectly judged, and Temirkanov commanded the Philharmonia brilliantly. Khachatryan was lyrical and expressive throughout, squeezing out all the impassioned sentiments of the first movement, the long lines in the second movement being beautifully shaped and controlled, and the technical mastery in the third movement avoiding virtuosity for its own sake and producing aggressively rhythmic jabbing. The Philharmonia was a perfect partner, showing equal measures of sensitivity and assertiveness and great mastery of the score. Apart from a very minor timing issue towards the end of the first movement, this was an immense and breathtaking performance. As an encore, Khachatryan in reflective mood played the opening Adagio from Bach's Sonata No. 1 in G minor BWV 1001.  
Mark Thomas, Bachtrack, 22 October 2016
Sergey Khachatryan gave a vibrant and magnetic outing for Sibelius’s Violin Concerto. Technically he was impeccable and retained a full tone across the violin’s register, not least at its highest. He played with ardour and concentration, the cadenza integrated into the first movement, Robin O’Neill’s bassoon leading us back into the dark beauty of Sibelius’s orchestral twilight zone, and Temirkanov retaining eight double basses added timbral deepness. If the slow movement was on the languid side initially it was effortlessly steered into choppier waters and the Finale had plenty of impetus without overlooking the composer’s ma non tanto qualification.

If not the most detail-conscious accompaniment, it was always solid and supportive, and given Khachatryan’s musicianship and powerful communication, his encore was thoroughly deserved, a Bach Sonata slow movement, rich of tone and articulation yet also confiding.
Colin Anderson, Classical Source, 20 October 2016

Concert: 31 January 2016

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra welcomed back two 30-something guest artists over the weekend -- Czech conductor Jakub Hrusa and Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan. Both should come back more often.

Khachatryan's visit was overdue. He made his BSO debut a decade ago, playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto memorably. He addressed the same work on this return, and played the heck out of it even more impressively Sunday afternoon at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The performance was greeted with shouts and whoops not typically expected from a matinee crowd. And no wonder.

This was a sterling performance in technique, to be sure, but, more importantly, in terms of interpretive depth. The hushed opening made that clear; Khachatryan coaxed his first notes as if from some ethereal realm.

Such pianissimo playing, matched in subtlety by the orchestra's strings, cast a spell over the hall (well, for a while -- it was broken soon enough by sonic boom-level sneezes, coughs and other assorted noises).

The violinist tapped intensely into the yearning poetry of the second movement, and phrased with an earthy, quite gripping tone in the finale. All the while, he enjoyed attentive support from Hrusa and the orchestra.

To open the program, the conductor offered Janacek's "Jealousy," the discarded overture to his gripping opera "Jenufa." This compact piece captures the composer's distinctive style neatly, and Hrusa had the BSO articulating it in dynamic fashion; the opening and closing bursts were delivered with particular snap.

Brahms' Symphony No. 4 brought the concert to a satisfying close. So satisfying I'd rank it among the best Brahms performances I've heard this orchestra give.

Hrusa balanced propulsion and repose deftly, taking particular care to shape the second movement's dark lyricism. He had the Scherzo going like gangbusters, but also drew out many a nuance of dynamics along the way. The conductor brought gravitas and many a subtle inflection to the finale.

The playing had consistent warmth and depth, not to mention technical polish. A rich string tone served the music particularly well. Last movement highlights included some noble sounds from the trombones and, especially, the radiant phrasing of principal flutist Emily Skala.
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, 1 February 2016

My Armenia

CD: Naïve

This recording, ‘dedicated to the 100th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide’, is presented by violinist Sergey Khachatryan, winner of the Queen Elisabeth and Sibelius competitions and the leading Armenian musician of his generation. Performing with his sister, pianist Lusine, who also plays a number of solo works on this disc, Khachatryan brings his glorious tone to the music of his homeland.

There is a school of Armenian composition, informed by folk and religious music, that stretches back to the mid-19th century, although its founder Komitas Vardapet, who suffered during the events of 1915, is the only composer here to have written in that century. His Krunk (‘The Crane’), a national song, opens the recording and sets the tone with its lushly melodic, distinctly Eastern violin lines. Of the music that follows, Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance – spikily dispatched by Khachatryan – is by far the most famous, but there is much else on the disc to enjoy: a second, sotto voce miniature from Khachaturian’s ballet Gayaneh, Edvard Mirzoyan’s driving work Perpetuum mobile and a brooding Rhapsody by Eduard Ivanovich Bagdasarian.

Sergey Khachatryan’s playing is flawless throughout, while the recording is both well balanced and resonant, and together the siblings’ love for this music shines through. 
Tim Woodall, The Strad, 25 January 2016

Beethoven Violin Concerto

Los Angeles Philharmonic / Ludovic Morlot, Walt Disney Concert Hall, November 2015

Odd as the match of Beethoven with Adams seemed initially, Khachatryan's interpretation of the Violin Concerto displayed a kind of mindfulness that called for intense concentration on the moment – a useful attitude to hold onto, as it turned out, for Become Ocean. The 30-year-old Armenian virtuoso is justly celebrated for the exquisite, refined beauty of his sound, and he left no vein of the concerto's lyrical riches unexplored.

Morlot's restrained tempi afforded ample room for Khachatryan to sustain his supremely poetic and contemplative approach, which almost suggested an act of devotion in the Larghetto. If a sense of the bigger picture became a secondary consideration, especially in the first movement, which seemed to linger in its own "heavenly lengths", the beauty of Khachatryan's phrasing stirred the soul.
Thomas May, Bachtrack, 15 November 2015
Seattle's French music director, Ludovic Morlot, who commissioned Adams' score, was the guest conductor for the Disney performance, and Saturday he began by reminding the audience of Leonard Bernstein's oft-quoted reply to violence: "to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." Taking Bernstein at his word, violinist Sergey Khachatryan brought an almost unreal beauty to Beethoven's Violin Concerto in the first half the program. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 18 November 2015
When he [Ludovic Morlot] and the band turned to Beethoven's Violin Concerto with the gifted young Armenian Sergey Khachatryan as its champion, it didn't matter anymore -- because here was playing to ravish the ear.

Rarely do we come across a violinist who speaks Beethoven in long phrases as understandable as a Lawrence Olivier reading of Shakespeare. And that's without mentioning his technique -- it allows the softest slivers of intimacy, a racing-heart urgency, eloquent warmth without gushing. During his gorgeously compelling cadenzas it seemed that no one in the hall drew a breath.
Donna Perlmutter, LA Observed, 30 November 2015

Sibelius Violin Concerto

Munich Philharmonic / Rafael Payare, February 2015

Khachatryan weiß vor allem seine Fähigkeiten, maßvoll einzusetzen.  Der Einstieg gelingt ihm mit wehklagenden Charme, den zweiten Satz beginnt das Orchester löchrig, was der Solist zu füllen vermag, ohne schmierig zu werden.  Im dritten Satz setzt Khachatryan schließlich melodische Phrasen kühl voneinander abund lässt seine Stimme zu einem eklektischen Puzzle werden. Rita Argauer, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23 February 2015

Im umfangreichen Werkverzeichnis von Jean Sibelius kommt seinem Opus 47 eine besondere Stellung zu, ist es doch das einzige große Solokonzert, das der Finne zu Papier brachte.  Gewidmet ist es natürlich der Violine, jenem Instrument, dass Sibelius erlernt hatte und am meisten schätzte.  Eine Chance, die Sergey Khachatryan in der Münchner Philharmonie voll und ganz für sich zu nutzen wusste—ebenso schlicht wie eindringlich in den zart modellierten Kadenzen und bei allem Feingefühl stets die ihm zugedachte Führungsrolle ausfüllend.

Khachatryan gestand der unterschwelligen Melancholie ihren Platz zu, ohne sie jedoch zum einzigen Ausdruckmittel zu erheben, und bot so eine bewegende Interpretation des vielschichtigen Werkes, das er im letzten Satz mit einer beeindruckenden Demonstration seines virtuosen Könnens krönte. Tobias Hell, Münchner Merkur, 23 February 2015

Shostakovich Violin Concerto no.1

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra / Mikhail Tatarnikov, Brucknerhaus Linz, 20 November 2013

Sergey Khachatryan überzeugte als Solist des viersätzigen 1. Violinkonzertes von Dmitri Schostakowitsch durch seinen technisch makellosen und stilsicheren Vortrag.  Nach dem klagenden Nachtgesang bildet das groteske Scherzo einen wirkungsvollen Kontrast.  Die mit einer gewaltigen Solokadenz abschliessende Passacaglia mündet in das tänzerische Finale, das hinreißend musiziert wurde.
Fridolin Dallinger, Neues Volksblatt, 22 November 2013
Dazu das Violinkonzert Nr.1 in a-moll von Schostakowitsch in seiner teils meditativen Verinnerlichung und teils explosiv fulminanter Bravour.  Diese nutzte der aus Armenien stammende Geigensolist Sergey Khachatryan, der die Zuhörerschaft namentlich mit seiner Kadenz und dem herrlich sportlich rasenden Finalsatz schlichtweg zum Rasen brachte.  Bravo, bravo, bravo, bravo!
Balduin Sulzer, Kronen Zeitung, 22 November 2013
Tosender Beifall für Geiger Sergey Khachatryan
***** Star des Abends war der Geiger Sergey Khachatryan aus Armenien, der mit staunenswerter Musikalität, technischer sowie gestalterischer Virtuosität das Schostakowitsch-Violinkonzert zum Erlebnis machte.  Die Geige schwebt dabei auch im feinsten Piano über dem Orchester, mühelos, fließend und mit bewundernswerter Selbstverständlichkeit.
Ein besonderes Gustostück war die höchst virtuos gespielte, überaus faszinierende Kadenz.  Beim ‘Nocturno’ glaubte man sich in einen stimmungsvollen Wald versetzt.  Das übermütige ‘Scherzo’ zeigte ein rauschendes Fest.  Die ‘Passacaglia’ stand auf festem Boden.  Die ‘Burlesque’ als vielschichtiger Höhepunkt des Werkes bildete den temperamentvollen Abschluss.  Für den tobenden Beifall auch aus dem Orchester bedankte sich der Geiger mit einem fein ziselierten, ein wenig melancholisch getönten armenischen Volkslied.
Franz Zamazal, OÖ Nachrichten, 22 November 2013

Brahms: Sonatas for Violin and Piano

Naïve Classique, 2013

These three sonatas, composed between 1878 and 1888, make a wonderful Romantic-classic triptych, pure essence of Brahms, and, though endlessly recorded, could hardly ask for more persuasive advocates than this young Armenian brother-and-sister duo. From the leisurely but rapt opening of No 1, in G—the vivace ma non troppo tempo decidedly “non troppo”, and the rippling interplay of the contrary-motion quavers all the more precisely savourable—it is clear the composer’s idiom is in wise hands. [...] It is a joy from beginning to end here. Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, 23 June 2013
Over gentle, hypnotic piano chords, the violin breathes a singing line of dreamlike beauty: the opening of Brahms's first violin sonata is one of the great moments in music, masterfully recreated here by a brother-and-sister team.  Pianist Lusine is at her best in the sprightly, dancing scherzo of the third sonata; violinist Sergey excels in the peaceful meditative central movement of the second sonata.  Elsewhere there is slightly too much edgy violin vibrato for my taste, but they come together to create a fresh, incisive account that lifts these three sonatas into a new realm of intense feeling. Nicholas Kenyon, The Observer, 30 June 2013
Denn die Khachatryans wissen nicht nur um die entscheidenden Unterschiede zwischen Gefühl und Pathos, zwischen Sentiment und Sentimentalität. Während Sergey Khachatryan mit einem ungemein schlanken, vibratoarmen Ton es schafft, selbst das heftigste Espressivo immer noch sinnlich atmen zu lassen, erweist sich Lusine Khachatryans Spiel als körperreich auch in der dynamischen Variabilität. So kann man mit Herz und eben auch Verstand mitverfolgen, wie diese hochqualifizierte Partnerschaft einerseits die Brahms´schen Seelenschluchten auskundschaftet. Zugleich schafft man es, jenen Komponisten ins Licht zu rücken, der auf engstem kammermusikalischem Raum die Kunst beherrschte, das streng Konstruierte und den freien Ausdruckswillen zu einem großen Ganzen zu formen. Aber ziemlich gegen Ende der Einspielung werden auch solche Errungenschaften zweitrangig. Denn das „Adagio“ der d-Moll-Sonate lassen Sergey & Lusine Khachatryan einfach mit einer Innigkeit dahin strömen, dass man sich kaum zu bewegen wagt.
Guido Fischer, Rondo, 29 June 2013

Shostakovich Violin Concerto no.1

Seattle Symphony Orchestra / Ludovic Morlot, June 2013

…there was no sense of the mainstream or of “playing it safe” in his deeply sensitive, impassioned performance of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1 with the orchestra and conductor Ludovic Morlot.  The opening Nocturne was a profound reverie; the Scherzo movement rose to a triumphant, whirling finale, and the somber Passacaglia was profoundly affecting. The fierce difficulty and staggering virtuosity of the final movement brought the audience to its feet, hoping (in vain this time) for an encore.

Melina Bargreen, The Seattle Times, 21 June 2013

Brahms Violin Concerto

Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse / Tugan Sokhiev, January 2013

On savait que Sergey Khachatryan était l'un des jeunes violinistes avec lesquels il faut aujourd'hui compter.  Soliste du dernier concert de l'Orchestre du Capitole à la Halle aux Grains (dirigé par Tugan Sokhiev), le virtuose d'origine arménienne révèle ce soir-là une vraie maturité artistique dans le Concerto pour violon de Brahms. Aussi sensible que techniquement superlatif, son archet très sûr phrase la partition avec une élégance souveraine, fait entendre un son à la fois limpide et plein, caresse les cordes lors d'un Adagio superbe, en état d'apesanteur.  2200 personnes lui réserveront un triomphe.  Le violoniste offrira deux bis. Anne-Marie Chouchan, La Dépêche du Midi, 30 January 2013

Duo recital with Lusine Khachatryan

Alice Tully Hall (New York), 23 May 2012

A Violin and Its Master Have Their Moment

In New York, where audiences are treated to regular performances by star musicians, there is excellent music-making in abundance.  Yet for all the virtuoso playing—however enjoyable it may be—it is still rare to hear an artist communicate with the level of searing intensity that Sergey Khachatryan achieved in his sublime interpretation of Bach’s Partita for Solo Violin No. 2 at Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday evening.

[…] This was certainly a deeply spiritual performance, personal and soaringly expressive.  As soon as Mr. Khachatryan began the opening Allemande, you could sense how intently the audience began listening, as he achieved the all-too-uncommon feat of seducing a rustling, coughing crowd into silence.

[…] There were moments of plaintive beauty when Mr. Khachatryan played the monumental Chaconne, and equally heart-wrenching moments during the Sarabande.  His sweet-toned approach is not the Baroque purist’s aesthetic, but not a note or phrase seemed ill advised.

The performance after intermission proved equally intense.  Mr. Khachatryan was joined by his sister Lusine Khachatryan, a gifted pianist, for an exciting rendition of Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata, whose tumultuous dialogue and seething drama inspired Tolstoy’s novella of the same name.  Such a sense of danger pervaded this fiery interpretation that you could easily imagine the jealous husband of Tolstoy’s story reacting in fury after hearing his wife performing this passionate music with another man.
The drama continued with the encore, the soulful, turbulent Introduction and Perptuum Mobile for violin and piano (1957) by the Armenian composer Edvard Mirzoyan.

Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times, 24 May 2012

Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin

Naïve Classique, 2010

THE STRAD RECOMMENDS: This is wonderfully expressive playing of a kind that I was beginning to fear had gone forever. […] The three sonatas begin in deeply probing fashion—the C major Adagio starts almost like a breath.  The fugues are amazingly thoughtful, especially the A minor and C major; the G minor asserts the sterner side of Bach’s counterpoint more.  In each case the second slow movement is very lovely, but in keeping with the way the whole sonata starts, that of the C major is quite hesitant.  The finales are dazzling. […] The performances of the Partitas realise all the multi-faceted drama of the dance.  The Chaconne is a spiritual journey, as I believe it should be. The Strad, January 2011
This young violinist avoids the lean, fleet-fingered approach to Baroque music now in vogue, favoring an unabashedly Romantic and passionate take on Bach’s three sonatas and three partitas for solo violin. Mr. Khachatryan plays with rich and beautiful tone; his interpretations are vividly rendered, detailed and potently expressive. New York Times, 25 November 2010
For all his youth, Khachatryan certainly has deep experience. […] His sound is both sturdy and beautiful, and he paces and phrases everything with intelligent eloquence, always allowing the music to breathe and voicing counterpoints lucidly.  Most impressive, though, is the emotional and spiritual depth he shows. The Sunday Times, 7 November 2010

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